Identity can be defined as the fact of being whom or what a person is. Internal and external factors shape a child’s concept of their own identity. These factors include the environmental setting, family, community, and the media. In the novel Room by Emma Donoghue, the 5-year-old narrator/protagonist Jack learns his identity through exploring the familiar space he occupies, the close relationship between he and his mother, and watching television.
It is clear that Jack faces many challenges, which lead him to discover how his identity is shaped; this is evident through the exploration of him forming personal attachments to his mother, the room he lived in, and the problems he encounters to the new outside world. First, Jack forms personal attachments to his mother, which leads him to how he discovers his identity. This quotation demonstrates how much his mother means to him. “‘What’s humankind? ’ ‘The human race, all of us. ’ ‘Is that me too? ’ ‘Oh yeah, for sure, you’re one of us. ’ ‘And Ma. ’ Dr.
Clay nods. ‘She’s one too. ’ But what I actually meant was, maybe I’m a human, but I’m a me-and-ma as well” (Donoghue, 274). This quote describes a very close relationship between the child and his mother. Jack is already able to identify himself as an individual, but he is also aware that his mother plays a crucial role in the development of his personality and ways of coping with his emotions. Moreover, Jack already identifies his dependency for his mother. “‘You know who you belong to Jack? Yourself. ’ He’s wrong, actually I belong to Ma” (Donoghue, 257).
This is another quote displaying how a young boy is strongly attached to his mother. She provides love, care, knowledge, and understanding of the entire world to him. As you can see, Jack discovers his identity by forming personal attachments to his mother. Secondly, Jack forms personal attachments to the room, which bring him to learn his own identity. He says last goodbyes to items in the room, and he presents his closeness to the setting he grew up in. “‘Good-bye, wall. ’ Then I say it to the three other walls, then ‘Good-bye, floor. ’ I pat bed, ‘Good-Bye, Bed’” (Donoghue, 320).
Over the first five years of Jack’s life, the room is where he finds safety and comfort. Jack was born in that room and lived with his mother there for the first five years of his life. He got accustomed to it and knew everything about it. Furthermore, you can see Jack showing his childish love to his basic belongings in the following quote. “‘Jack, it’s all frayed and stained from seven years…I can smell it from here. I had to watch you learn to crawl on that rug, to walk on it. You pooed on it once, the soup spilled, I could never get it clean. ’ ‘Yeah I was born on her and I was dead in her too. ‘Yeah, so what I’d really like to do is throw it in the incinerator. ’ ‘No! ’” (Donoghue, 305). Some of the very few belongings from the room mean a lot to him and are memorable. For example, a rug is utilized in many different ways in his life. He was born on it and escaped from the room in it. It signifies the beginning and the end of his life in the room. Altogether, Jack finds out who he is by forming personal attachments to the room. Lastly, Jack forms relations with the new outside world, and consequently he further explores his role within society.
According to a specialist, Jack’s limited exposure to the world will create a barrier towards interaction with the community and environment. “‘Like a newborn in many ways, despite his remarkably accelerated literacy and numeracy…. As well as immune issues there are likely to be challenges in the areas of social adjustment, spatial perception. ’ ‘Is that why he keeps banging into things? ’ ‘Exactly. ’ He hasn’t learned how to gauge distance’” (Donoghue, 182). According to Dr. Clay, Jack has developed his literacy and numeracy skills as well as his physical health was normal.
However, Jack will face difficulties in establishing himself within society and will have to get used to adjustments such as social interaction, sensory modulation, and spatial perception. Jack’s escape story is a miracle that the whole world found astonishing. “There’s a girl on the other swing, I didn’t even see her coming in. She’s swinging not at the same time as me she’s back when I’m forward. ‘What’s your name? ’ she asks. I pretend I don’t hear. ‘This is Ja—Jason,’ says Grandma” (Donoghue, 277). This shows that Jack cannot reveal his real name due to his story being all over the media.
His actions and behaviors are not suited to the real world and therefore anyone can realize that it is Jack, and they are going to want to get his picture and his autograph. All in all, Jack experiences problems adjusting to the real world. It is clear that Jack overcomes many obstacles that results in identifying his own identity; this is evident through the exploration of him forming personal attachments to his mother, to the room he used to live in and to the new outside world. Jack is very close with his mother, and therefore he could not function properly without her.
He needs her love, care and nurturing in order to survive. Jack’s strong love for the room is demonstrated through his unwillingness to leave the room as he felt safe and comfortable in it. He wants to keep the squalid rug from it as it means a lot to him. Jack undergoes through tough times when he explores the outside world. He will have difficulty fitting into normal human life due to the media being all over him. In conclusion, Jack’s identity is found within his personal attachments to Room, his mother, and through struggles of the revealing of the world.
Lawson, Mary. Crow Lake. Toronto: Random House, 2002.